The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be guessed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only, as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; But they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul says.How does one unworthily receive Baptism? I think that this is the issue that I was pushing towards in my most recent example concerning the Baptism of the non-elect. If a non-elect is Baptized, the use of the sacrament does NOT have a wholesome effect, but rather purchases damnation by the person. While we cannot know that this is occurring, we can no more refuse to Baptize than we do fence the table. How can we Baptize infants with any foreknowledge of the person and still hold concern for the person? Indeed, the opponents of paedobaptism gain considerable traction here. Still, we can have comfort in the knowledge that we do not elect. Those other vessels for other purposes have already been passed over regardless of our attempts to use the Sacraments as we were taught. Their damnation was not ours to prevent.
Returning to the issue of regeneration, it would then seem that there is a dual process occurring. In the elect, the regeneration is simultaneous with Baptism. Article XXVII states that the Sacrament is a "sign of regeneration." This is a different thing that stating that Baptism is efficacious in regeneration as do the Lutherans. We can further extrapolate that simultaneous regeneration at Baptism is expected in the elect, while the simultaneous confirmation of damnation is expected in the non-elect. We cannot hold to a position of the sign of regeneration without also holding to a position of damnation.
Importantly for my recently one-sided conversation with MDA (Monroe Doctrine Author), this reading of Articles XXV and XXVII is consistent with the later distinction between the sign and the thing signified. Article XXVII is actually quite clear on this point. What is missing from this discussion in the 39 Articles is the fate of the non-elect, an omission that does not seem to concern the church, presumably because it is not in our hands.
I hope that this has clarified the confusion of my own making. Working through this again has at least put me in a place where I am again comfortable with my own position. It may be, as I have stated several times earlier, that these distinctions are largely lost upon the Anglican Church, but at least I feel that there is consistency between the 39 Articles with the later Westminster Confession on this issue.